Fighting Burnout With Tai Chi


Tai Chi is based on the intrinsic wisdom to find balance in everything you do. This includes how much effort you expend at your workplace or desk, in your training, and on your performance. Success means that you have to push yourself to the brink in order to achieve it. This can lead to burnout. Sometimes success comes when you have balance, when you’ve just done enough to get the job done. Tai Chi will help when fighting burnout.

I want to talk to you about how Tai Chi impacts your success at work. Most motivational speakers and coaches often ask you to give it your all, give it 110%, and constantly push the envelope. These are aggressive strategies in order for you to obtain success.  Such slogans as ‘no pain, no gain’ or ‘no days off’ are quite common and can be detrimental to your health, not to mention your true success.

Are you feeling burned out?
These tactics often come with a feeling of burnout because you’re overdoing it. The more you are chained to your desk doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be more productive or lead you to an executive position or managerial role. In fact, you learn the hard way: the more you push people, the less you get out of them. 

When fighting burnout, Tai Chi teaches you to have moderation in effort. If you work too hard, then you may neglect other things in your life. You may become dehydrated because you forgot to drink water. You may lose sleep because you’ve been working at something for a long time. 

When you work hard and do more, you can sustain an injury.  Then you have your blinders on. When you do less, then you’re able to see the bigger picture. When you see the bigger picture, then you can respond proactively and not react by putting out fires. You’re able to observe, look, and see what is happening all around you.

When you do Tai Chi, you slow down which helps when fighting burnout. It allows your body to recognize trauma that you’re feeling within or the drama that you are experiencing. When you focus on the task at hand, perhaps in your work environment, you don’t necessarily see what’s happening around you. When you do Tai Chi, this allows you to sense what’s going on, not just within your body and the tension that you may feel while you’re doing work. But it allows you to sense what’s happening around you, how people are interacting with you, how your clients are interfacing with you, and the kinds of conversations that you’re having. 

In Tai Chi, there is a core principle to follow. It’s the principle of using 4 ounces to deflect 1,000 pounds. In other words, you don’t need to use force to resist force. What you use instead are 4 ounces to deflect or guide away 1,000 pounds of force so that it doesn’t hit you very hard.  When you roll with the punches when fighting burnout, you can relax or rest, especially after work.

What relaxation means in Tai Chi
Relaxation can mean a lot of things, but in Tai Chi, it means to be loose and to be open, to have this quality that permits the natural flow of energy. It allows you to take a break, even while you’re doing something because you’re no longer tense. You’re not going at it 110% throwing yourself out there and risking something much greater, like your health.

Why you use 80% effort in Tai Chi
When you learn Tai Chi, you begin with smaller movements so that your tissues and joints can warm up. Then you gently let the movements get larger and bigger, but never forced. The movements never go to 110% – in fact, you stay at about 80% of your maximum range of motion. You want to avoid the extremes of movement or activity. In Tai Chi, you are never hyperextended.  There is no locking of the joints.  Otherwise, you start to feel the tension in your body and then blockages can occur. 

Maintaining 80% not just only applies to physical strain, but it also applies to the emotional and social effort. Nobody’s going to want to talk to you if you’re yapping at them all the time and forcing yourself on them. 

Take a step back, relax, formulate a good way of having a conversation.  Don’t talk at people. That will help you to develop patience, which is a nice side effect of doing Tai Chi.

What if you can avoid overexertion?
What if you can work smarter and not harder? What if you can allow yourself time for some exercise during the day or stress reduction? Take time to practice at work in downtime or during a break. If you can practice moderation at work, it may serve as a hedge against any resistance that you may have with your clients or colleagues. Small breaks can help when fighting burnout. Depending on your job, you may be going from meeting to meeting, one after the other, and you may start to feel tired and exhausted.  Pause and breathe.

What I want to impress upon you is that success really means to spend your time on things that matter. Use Pareto’s Principle, which means 20% of your activities will account for 80% of your results. 

So take a step back and think about what you’re doing. Are you pushing yourself too hard? Are you going to the brink and breaking down? When you see that coming, I want you to slow down, take a step back, and really spend the time to see what matters. What can you do with the least amount of effort that will give you the greatest amount of results? 

This is what Tai Chi in effect teaches us to do.

It teaches you to go slow, breathe in and out. When you push in Tai Chi, you gently use the fingers to get the job done. That’s all you need is just enough to get the job done.

But then you could be asking yourself, how can you integrate Tai Chi in your workday? First, you should pace yourself because it’s better to do a little bit of exercise or Tai Chi a little bit at a time. It’s like watering a plant. You don’t overwater, and you don’t underwater, and sometimes you give it a little extra water as needed. This is the same thing with your exercise routine. It’s better to work out in small amounts throughout the day. 

Take time to listen to your body and support it for growth and success.

I like to hear what you think about this topic. Does relaxing help you to have more success or does it help when you are already burning out? Please leave a message below and start a conversation.

Share This Post


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Follow Us On Social